Short-yardage passing had a good year, except at the end of the Super Bowl. We look at the return of quarterback runs, the rise in pass-happy strategy, and 2014 success rates for offense and defense.
12 Jan 2011
by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz
Tom: So, Mike, like last year, I am in last place in Playoff Fantasy after the first week. This is what happens when you make your team largely out of players with byes.
Mike: True, but as we have discussed, these teams have byes for a reason.
Tom: Yes. Ben Muth is in first place right now, but he only has three players left. He had four players in double figures, but Drew Brees, Pierre Garcon, and Garrett Hartley won't be doing that again this season.
Mike: I bet he's surprised those are the guys he lost.
Tom: Well, Garcon isn't too much of a surprise, and he does still have LaDainian Tomlinson from that game. But, yes, those Saints players ...
Mike: There are no words.
Mike: Especially not that one.
Tom: But it's the thing to say when you don't know what else to say. Or, like Ratatouille, have you not seen Mary Poppins?
Mike: There's a pretty big difference between the two in notoriety.
Tom: Well, probably.
Mike: The difference between making a joke about nessum dorma and a joke about ho una casa nell'honan.
Tom: Perhaps if you explained that in Japanese, I'd understand it better.
Mike: Kazemikase Tsukikage Ran vs. Akira.
Tom: Gotcha, sort of. Anyway, when we go ahead and found Movie Outsiders, we'll discuss the relative merits of Remy the Rat and chimney sweeps.
Mike: Dick Van Dyke has admitted his accent was awful, so I am at peace with Mary Poppins.
Tom: I don't know quite what you thought of this weekend's games. We had some pretty competitive contests, but aside from the magnitude of Seattle's upset, I'm not sure what we'll remember of this weekend in the future.
Mike: We'll probably only really remember Seattle if they make some more noise. I will probably remember Packers-Eagles for a while, at least. It was a good game.
Tom: I guess Marshawn Lynch's run was pretty memorable, although I think it's been a little overpraised -- or at least I would have esteemed it more if New Orleans had been doing something on defense.
Mike: Yeah, as I said in audibles, while I like Lynch and am happy he got his run put to Super Mario Bros. sound effects, that play was a lot more about how bad New Orleans's tackling is. Then again, when was the last instant classic we had in the wild card round?
Tom: Anyway, we move on to the next round of games, when we will actually see the best teams in each conference, plus the Bears and Seahawks. And Cardinals-Packers, last year.
Mike: I don't even remember that game.
Tom: The Cardinals built a huge lead, then the Packers came back and tied it. The game went to overtime. Rodgers just missed an open Jennings, I believe, on what would have been a winning touchdown, then fumbled on his last chance to win the game.
Mike: That sounds vaguely familiar, but I agree, we have better teams now, we should get better games.
Tom: It sort of lagged for a while, then got really interesting very quickly. I think that's a more common feature of "great games" than we normally admit.
Tom: Super Bowl XXXIV (Rams-Titans) was mostly a dull, one-sided game for two-and-a-half quarters. Super Bowl XXXVIII (Patiots-Panthers) had about 40 dull minutes between most of the first half and some of the second. It's difficult to sustain the sort of breakneck intensity that makes for great games for the whole thing, it seems.
Mike: Well, and if there's a lot of exciting things going on, cynics like myself will just say it's poor play instead of exceptional effort. Football fans: impossible to please.
Tom: And so we are.
|FO Playoff Wild Card Results|
|Mike||Matt Ryan||--||Ray Rice||15||LeSean McCoy||7||Marques Colston||6||Anquan Boldin||12||Johnny Knox||--||Heath Miller||--||Matt Bryant||--||Bears||--||40|
|Tom||Tom Brady||--||Matt Forte||--||Pierre Thomas||0||Roddy White||--||Deion Branch||--||Brandon Tate||--||Rob Gronkowski||--||Shayne Graham||--||Patriots||--||0|
|Dave||Ben Roethlisberger||--||Michael Turner||--||Joseph Addai||6||Greg Jennings||0||Wes Welker||--||Hines Ward||--||Jacob Tamme||4||Adam Vinatieri||14||Falcons||--||24|
|Sean||Aaron Rodgers||19||Jamaal Charles||13||Shonn Greene||7||Reggie Wayne||0||Santonio Holmes||4||Braylon Edwards||6||Dustin Keller||4||Mason Crosby||3||Ravens||12||68|
|Tim||Peyton Manning||15||Rashard Mendenhall||--||Reggie Bush||4||Mike Wallace||--||DeSean Jackson||4||Blair White||5||Brent Celek||2||David Akers||4||Steelers||--||34|
|Ben||Drew Brees||28||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||--||Ladainian Tomlinson||21||Dwayne Bowe||0||Pierre Garcon||17||Jeremy Maclin||7||Tony Gonzalez||--||Garrett Hartley||12||Saints||-5||80|
Three of the four best quarterback scores opening weekend were put up by Best of the Rest quarterbacks. If you had Joe Flacco or Matt Hasselbeck, you have a chance to continue your run. If you were one of the many who had Michael Vick, not so much. Our first week leader is turbohappy with 82 points, thanks to Flacco and Lynch, followed closely by Sid's 79 points (Vick, alas), Stats are for losers (not verified, I remind you) with 77 points (Vick as well), and roguerouge's 75 (Flacco). If you want a playoff fantasy sleeper, look at Packers running back James Starks as he attempts to replicate Shonn Greene's success from last as a standout who goes unpicked among both staffers and commenters.
Tom: At long last, we have found this commercial. It's been up since November 8, and it only has 26 views.
Mike: Oh, it is on, perhaps in a similar fashion to some tie-bearing ape. I can tell you why it only has 26 views: It is AWFUL. Also, I think my browser just crashed in protest. For serious, this isn't working.
Tom: Yes, but it's a beer commercial. Even the worst beer commercials shown on national television have lots more views than that.
Mike: There we go. I will say that despite the precedent of Star Trek being filmed largely at a brewery, Coors mission control has no booze-related trappings, which seems like an oversight.
Tom: I know. You'd think we'd at least all see them cracking open a cold Coors Light once they had liftoff.
Mike: Well, that depends on what all that Coors loaded into the beer-shuttle was doing. If it were, say their rocket fuel, then it would make sense. We would live in some world where Coors was our most precious natural resource.
Tom: Or, rather, to promote the Silver Bullet Pint, twisting the cap off the half-drunk one they'd saved for later.
Mike: See, that makes sense. There's no actual demonstration of the usefulness of the product aside from the fact that you could perhaps create a giant fake Cape Canaveral out of Lego and program it to remove and replace the cap to your metal pint of cheap beer.
Tom: Like this?
Mike: Something like that.
Tom: Oh, and if they really want to be cool, they'd show us in the final shot the Canadarm opening a beer can. Yes, that Lego set had the Canadarm if you opened the interior.
Mike: I really shouldn't have mentioned Legos.
Tom: No, you shouldn't have. But that's just another thing Coors could have included in their commercial that would've made it better.
Mike: Anyway, they say "Houston, we have refreshment." WHO ARE THEY REFRESHING?
Tom: SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE, I guess.
Mike: I refuse to believe that rubber forehead aliens would visit earth just to try and drink out of a giant screw-cap pint.
Tom: Maybe you can use the Silver Bullet Pint to keep hot food hot and cold food cold, and aliens would find that sort of thing useful on those long interstellar voyages.
Mike: Aluminum is way too conductive to insulate.
Tom: So you're telling me if I tried actually launching a Silver Bullet Pint into space, there's no way it'd actually make it there? I feel like I need to bring a complaint against Coors Light with the FTC.
Mike: Tom's dreams of firing thousands of gallons of beer into LEO have been dashed by the harsh reality that Coors is full of it. For shame.
Tom: Yeah, pretty much. As somebody who'd pretty much a teetotaler, that would've been pretty much beer's highest and best use to me.
Mike: I'm not sure there is a better use for Coors, at least.
Tom: Actually, I do now recall making fun of my housemate's girlfriend and her roommates in college for having Coors Light as the only beer in their fridge. Since Low Earth Orbit isn't a possibility, that may be the highest and best use I'll ever actually find for Coors Light.
Mike: It is interesting that they at least get the water below the boosters concept correct, albeit in a different phase. As we alluded to earlier, there's remarkable attention to detail in this commercial where the trappings of real space travel are preserved, which makes the fact that we're talking about a giant beer can even more jarring.
Tom: I like the pseudo-mountains in the background when they put the cap in place and lock it. Cape Canaveral, Colorado!
Mike: Well, if it weren't for the mountains, you wouldn't know it was cold! Which is why Antarctica is the rockiest place on earth, and also home of the best beer.
KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: Touchdown, Seahawks. Touchdown, Seahawks. Big play, Seahawks. Touchdown, Seahawks. Those plays kept happening, and most of them had one thing in common: Saints safety Roman Harper allegedly in "coverage" on the play. Your Scramble writers are not sure any New Orleans defenders had a good game Saturday, but Harper was the worst.
MIKE MARTZ AWARD: Your Scramble writers were chatting apart from the Audibles e-mails over the weekend, as is their wont, and decided on three separate and independent occasions to give Colts coach Jim Caldwell this week's Martz Award: for his inexplicable early challenge of Santonio Holmes' alleged punt muff, for a seeming willingness to accept a 50-yard field goal attempt to win the game, and for the inexplicable timeout with 29 seconds left that forced the Jets to run another play rather than giving them the option of settling for a long field goal attempt. For good measure, Caldwell also elected not to try at the end of the first half. This wasn't the kind of decision we like to give the Martz Award for, but it was yet another questionable call.
COLBERT AWARD: You have one of the league's best quarterbacks, an explosive passing game, and a running game that's struggled all year to gain consistent yardage. Naturally, Packers coach Mike McCarthy elects to call for a nearly even split between running plays and passing plays, putting the load on undrafted rookie running back James Starks, who's had trouble getting in the lineup. The result: 23 carries for 123 yards for Starks and a playoff victory for the Packers.
32 comments, Last at 14 Jan 2011, 5:32pm by Kevin from Philly